A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them
Liberty Hyde Bailey
I have two 4’x8′ raised beds in my garden for all of my herbs and vegetables. Tomatoes and basil are non-negotiables, as are chives and parsley and rosemary. This year, on a whim, I bought a cucumber plant for the first time. It was so cute, and the possibility of fresh cucumbers from my own garden made me drool in anticipation. I didn’t think through the space issues, though. Cucumbers vine, and I don’t have horizontal space in my tiny garden, only vertical space.
So I’m growing a cucumber in a tomato cage, and it’s mostly working according to my plan: a large part of the plant is growing the way I want it to grow (up). But I have had to come to terms with the stems that cannot be convinced to stay in the cage and are instead sneaking between the flat leaf and curly parsley and heading across the bed to hang out with the basil.
This cucumber in its tomato cage has me thinking about all of the supports our students need to grow successfully.
We can plan for behavioral supports – a calm quiet voice, refusal to engage in power plays, alternative spaces to work alone.
We can plan for academic supports – alternative texts, small group instruction, extra time and multiple attempts.
We can plan for social supports – careful composition of work groups, time spent with the guidance counselor, informal lunch bunches
Yet invariably, some of our students will need supports that do not come from our toolbox of tried-and-true strategies. For some of our students, we will need to invent the right support for one particular child and for the conditions at hand.
It’s this “cucumber in a tomato cage” mentality that I need in my classroom as I support my students in a variety of ways. Most will grow predictably, and will respond to the supports I provide from my toolbox of reliable strategies. But I need to be ready to improvise now and then, creatively supporting a child for the most success possible, while at the same time relaxing my expectations about the direction of each child’s growth.
This week we feature books for launching reading workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Here are two booklists from the archives to help you think through how to launch your reading workshops.
What are the best books for the visual learners in your classroom? Carol Wilcox draws on her experience as a mom to two boys who do not love her “world of words” in coming up with suggestions:
Jan Miller Burkins highlights books for launching the school year with intention, confidence, and community in mind:
Cathy Mere has terrific advice for launching primary reading workshops at her Refine and Reflect blog:
Will you be working with students on the autism spectrum next year? Aaron Lanou explains how you can adapt morning meetings to suit their needs:
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Mandy Robek shares her favorite texts to use early in the year with young students to introduce them to everything from places to read in the classroom to how to handle books:
Katherine Sokolowski explains how she spends her time during the First Days of Launching Reading and Writing Workshops:
Karen Terlecky has advice for Using Summer Reading as Bookends for the School Year:
In this week’s video, Aimee Buckner helps 4th grader Isaiah focus his reading early in the year in this quick conference:
We passed a big milestone recently when we posted our 500th video at Choice Literacy. We realized members who only joined Choice Literacy in the past few years may have missed some great footage posted in our first years. We are starting a new feature, Encore Video, highlighting video for members from the archives. Don’t worry — we will still be posting at least one new video every week. But we think many of these encore videos may be “new to you” and worth a peek.
In this week’s encore video, Katie Doherty teaches inferring to her middle school students using Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, a book mentioned in two of our booklists this week for launching the year. This is the first video in a three-part series you can access at the link:
That’s all for this week!